Category Archives: Other Reviews
The interesting thing about having spent a lot of time in a place is that it really gives a sense of perspective. When it is LA or NY or something similar, it becomes a fully shared experience. Santa Barbara as a rule of thumb is a much smaller community. Creating a modern noir on the American Riviera and still making it feel local and not elitist is a hard balance to come by. “Lost Tomorrows” [Matt Coyle/Oceanview/368pgs], even though many times it deals too much in absolutes, has a great through line running through it. While likely not a great recruiting tool for the police department, its sense of geography down to even a phone booth shows an undeniable aspect of details. While it lays into fairly cliche territory at times, the pulp ideal of its fiction works pretty well, especially in the aspect of Rick Chaill, a PI with smarts who at times is too stupid for his own good because he can’t come to terms with his own psyche. All the different characters work well and have their own reasoning even though you hate most of everyone in the end but they all have their own reasons for being the way they are. In that way it does feel like a thriller in a similar way to “Basic Instinct” but without the full sexualized background of that. The lead character Cahill comes back to Santa Barbara after being vilified and accused of his wife’s murder many years before. He returns when his former partner and one time lover on the force (Krista) seemingly gets killed by a drunk driver on State Street. Cahill becomes embroiled with her sister Leah whom Cahill seems to see a lot of his perceptions in. There are many plot strands that aren’t completely balanced along with certain motivations but it still moves. And Cahill’s approaches to crimes and morally progressive actions at times don’t jive with what the story could be. That said, it is undeniably entertaining and its resolution expected when you think about it but not exactly what one would think. In that way it knows what it is, paints a world but also draws you into the characters head space, however misaligned it is.
By Tim Wassberg
The aspect of hubris flitters in the idea of redemption. But when there is no cure to a sickness that befalls a civilization that is when anarchy sets in. “Renaissance Vol. 1: The Uprooted” [Frederic Blanchard & Fred Duval/Europe/59pgs] approaches the perception from two angles: one of the belittled and one of the rescuers. However perception in a greater vision can be seen between invader and conqueror even if the plan itself is benevolent in nature. Any degree of darkness can be seen as stifling. In this story, humankind has unleashed a plague that it cannot contain. On another planet we see the elements of a species which acts in some ways as a emergency rescue organization in the cosmos. The parallel stories are an interesting diatribe on the notion of immigration within the ideals of humanitarian aide. The aspect of pride balances in the what the quid pro quo might be in the requisite continuation of the relationship. This reflects in the reaction of humans but also the use of relaxants almost as a calming force. The reasoning of why this is happening to the human race is not fully explored while the domestic tranquility of the aliens and their rites of passage are. The result is there is lack of parallel experience to show why one side should trust the other. Ultimately it comes down to the fact of a quest with a person who carries the cure becoming the catalyst for a series of other events, This of course is a relevant but tried plot device which ultimately levels the playing field. Yet the overwhelming technological possibilities of the aliens will not be enough to sway a necessary feeling of superiority that what is being done is for their own good.
By Tim Wassberg
The essence of a heroine is reflected in the ideal of her goals or pursuits. “Stumptown – Vol. 1” [Greg Rocha/Oni/156pgs] knows what it is and embraces it. Dex is the vision of anti-hero with a chip on her shoulder but a thirst for a good time. She needs money. She is down on her luck. She likes to drink. But she hits it with a sense of humor. ABC created the series adaptation that is premiering this fall. The pilot seen perfectly captures the feeling of the graphic novel and while the characters are reflective, liberties are taken in terms of moving the storylines. At least in the initial push the art captures a dingy feeling which is dictated to be Portland but could be Anytown USA. The major difference is in the music mix tape highlighted in the series which adds an undeniable tinge of the Greek chorus either underplaying the humor or overplaying the irony. While the investigations unit with Dex besets is already established, the texture of her relationship with Grey seems to be still developing. The essence of violence seems to be a constant in Dex’s life though she seems to take it in stride but her world weariness is apparent. She wants to be loved but she doesn’t want to put too much work into it. The politics, which seem so apparent at times in the pilot in terms of the Indian Reservation law, are subdued here although the capture of the matriarch of the casino and her nonchalance is adequately relayed. “Stumptown” plays into that noir concept of a character that seems to be stuck in her life but accepts it as existences. Like the gumshoes of the 40s, the world and its intentions forever focus what the characters choices will be. Dex makes the most of it and the least of it in the same throw.
By Tim Wassberg